Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition that affects roughly 6% to 12% of US women of reproductive age (15-49 years) (1). Once considered an endocrine disorder, it is now considered to be a metabolic, hormonal, and psycho-social disorder that not only affects women’s health but also influences their quality of life (2). According to the NHS, to be diagnosed with PCOS, a woman needs to have only two of the three conditions: cysts in the ovaries, irregular periods (disrupted ovulation process), and excessive male hormones (androgens).
When considering the symptoms of PCOS and its association with fertility and weight gain, a large amount of misinformation is available online, which can lead to misconceptions. These myths and perceptions are dangerous for women as they interfere with proper health care. Having a basic understanding of PCOS can help women make the right decisions, at the right time.
Here are some common myths about PCOS, debunked:
Fact: The name PCO and PCOS might be confusing, but many women can have cysts and not be diagnosed with PCOS. Likewise, women may not have cysts, but still, have PCOS and experience symptoms like irregular periods or no periods at all; excess facial or body hair (Hirsutism); weight gain and difficulty losing weight; thinning hair or excessive hair loss; or acne or dark patches of skin. As mentioned above, to be diagnosed with PCOS, two out of three conditions need to be fulfilled (2). Therefore, one should avoid believing the PCO = PCOS myth and seek care for the symptoms they’re experiencing.
Fact: Though it is seen that women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight and report difficulty losing weight than women without this condition, the relationship between PCOS and weight is not clear for medical researchers and healthcare practitioners. Slender women can also suffer from PCOS which may be a result of hormonal issues like excessive androgen levels and insulin resistance. Due to this delusion, the signs and symptoms of PCOS in slender women are mostly ignored, which later causes more issues. Merely losing weight is not the ultimate solution for getting rid of PCOS. Making lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating habits and regular exercise regimes, may improve the way one’s body uses insulin and help regulate hormone levels.
Fact: This is one of the top myths that should be avoided. It is not usual that every woman dealing with PCOS would show similar signs and symptoms. PCOS is a group of symptoms (syndrome), affecting women’s ovaries and their normal ovulation process. It is seen that self-diagnosing and misdiagnosing PCOS based on excessive hair growth or irregular cycles alone, or an ultrasound screening of polycystic ovaries is quite common. Numerous other factors and conditions can mimic PCOS signs and symptoms. These factors include stress, following a fad diet, over-exercising, hormonal changes, thyroid issues, etc. Therefore, women should get themselves thoroughly checked as misdiagnosing themselves with PCOS prevents them from receiving care for their actual issue, which may be fatal in some cases.
Lab Testing API offers a range of blood tests to determine the risk of having polycystic ovarian syndrome, a common hormonal disorder in women. PCOS Blood Test is a comprehensive test that measures follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, as well as sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), all of which exert their effects on the gonads. It also measures testosterone, a hormone responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics. An individual can order their blood work at discounted rates through our website, and all lab orders include a physician’s order.
Fact: This is another misconception related to PCOS. Women suffering from PCOS might face difficulty when trying to conceive. As PCOS interferes with the regular ovulation process, getting pregnant becomes more difficult for women in some cases. Therefore, it is imperative to seek advice from a doctor or fertility specialist. Early diagnosis of this condition can facilitate timely fertility treatment and better long-term outcomes. Your doctor would also emphasize adopting a healthy lifestyle to include habits such as eating healthier, staying active, getting enough sleep, managing stress levels, and drinking enough water. Taking care of these things, when trying to conceive, can also increase the chances of getting pregnant.
Fact: Some studies have shown an association between PCOS and increased risk of developing insulin resistance. This is when women’s bodies make insulin but cannot use it effectively, which then increases their risk for Type 2 Diabetes and other metabolic syndromes like high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, gestational diabetes, etc. (1). However, the story is not the same for every woman as the potential consequences may differ. One such research revealed that women having no signs and symptoms of androgen excess do not show the same metabolic risks as women with symptoms of androgen excess (3). Similarly, limited research supports the relationship between PCOS and the chances of getting heart disease.
The mind and body are interlinked, changes in one can affect the other. Anxiety may trigger or further aggravate hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS. So it’s recommended to avoid fallacies surrounding PCOS and any worrisome thoughts associated therewith.
Fact: Although there is no cure for PCOS, one can manage their symptoms to alleviate any discomfort associated with the hormonal disorder. In addition to the above-listed lifestyle changes, one can seek fertility treatment, take medications, and in rare cases, undergo a minor surgery (laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD)).
The above content is purely informational. It should not be considered as medical advice or a doctor’s recommendation. The websites of, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Health Service, the University of Sydney, Atlanta Center for Reproductive Medicine, have been referenced to prepare this informational material.
Written by Dr. Shikha Sharma, Reviewed by Dr. Harshi Dhingra